The state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation is urging boaters to reduce the spread of invasive species by emptying ballasts before and after each visit to State Park marinas and boat launches.
“Aquatic invasive species can spoil boating and fishing trips, reduce lakeshore property values and undermine the tourism industry,” State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey said. “Once established, controlling non-native plant and animal life is extremely costly – and eradication is very difficult, sometimes impossible. We need the assistance and cooperation of boaters to prevent invasive species from degrading State Parks and waters.”
Trailered boats, car top boats and equipment moving between waterways are among the leading ways invasive species can “hitchhike” to new bodies of water.
Eurasian milfoil, zebra mussels, and gobies are non-native species that have found their way into local water bodies.
With Environmental Protection Fund support through New York's Department of State and Department of Environmental Conservation’s Ocean and Great Lakes program, State Parks has developed the "Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers" signs for 149 boat launch sites statewide – informing visitors about what they can do to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.
Each sign describes steps boaters should follow:
• Clean and remove all visible plants, animals, fish and mud from your boat, trailer and other equipment, and dispose of it in a suitable trash container or on dry land.
• Drain water from bilge, live wells, ballast tanks and any other locations with water before leaving the launch. Disinfect when possible.
• Dry your boat, trailer, and all equipment completely. At least 5 days of drying time is recommended. Drying times vary depending on weather and material.
Governor Cuomo has committed state resources to address this problem, and we encourage all New Yorkers to join this effort by being aware of the threat and taking steps to prevent the spread of aquatic invasives.”
Aquatic invasive species are non-native plants and animals that threaten native plants, wildlife and their habitats. Aquatic invasive species negatively impact recreation for boating, fishing and swimming by clogging waterways, changing the aesthetics of water bodies, and adversely altering natural habitat. Species such as Eurasian watermilfoil, zebra mussels and Hydrilla have already impacted several State Park lakes and ponds.